I don’t know about you, but paying mothers to attend ante-natal classes in a country like Nigeria that’s rife with intelligent and abundant human resource who all think corruption is the best form of making money, that finding ways to siphon money anyway possible is the status quo, doesn’t seem like the cleverest way to reduce maternal mortality.

Granted this idea makes quite a lot of sense. It’s worked in some countries with education and improving family planning and child spacing in India, but Nigeria isn’t India. Nigeria is that nation in West Africa that has the reputation of being the Wild West for first time foreigners or experts. Tread at your own peril, pretty much says it all. This latest idea by the Nigerian government is in a word: unsustainable. Seriously, who do they think they’re kidding with, fools? Don’t they know the facts?

Hospitals lay deserted, crumpling and out of order, if present at all, because the funds injected into the projects had “mysteriously misplaced”. How much so for “cash in hand” payments for ante-natal visits made? Over here, we’ve got lots of Ghost Workers who’ve been receiving salaries for decades that the authorities just found out about. If this scheme is implemented, no doubt we’ll be hearing countless news about “Ghost Pregnant Women” all over the nation. Needless to say, this so called program won’t last long, unless those profiting illegally from it will do whatever it takes to keep it there. “Man must chop”, as the saying goes and truly, a man must eat to survive. Good luck to he who stands in his way.

Conventional wisdom would permit the simple reduction of consultation and reduction fees at general hospitals that are mostly government funded, as opposed to just paying women to come for antenatal counselling.

Besides, family planning is a bit controversial with the multiple religious beliefs and ethnic groups in Nigeria alone. The children are gifts from God or Allah, depending on your religious views and as such, families, especially Islamic families have been known to have 14 children and then some. With this initiative, children won’t only be seen as God’s gift, but the money a reward from the government. And I have no doubt whatsoever, that certain families will encourage more pregnancies, earlier marriages and absolutely NO family planning method whatsoever.

Besides, does the government know how many people live in Nigeria? We are 167 million people and all that’s being budgeted for this initiative is 15 billion naira. The average number of children in a family is around 3 to 4 children.

Maybe its just me, and I’m disillusioned by my government’s lack of initiative in their endless “initiatives”, but really, does this make sense??? Shouldn’t the government and those responsible be focused on improving the health facilities, training personnel and making these services accessible to the poor? Shouldn’t we find ways to curb the ever present corruption that blocks the pipes of the Nigerian socio-economic state? Should we as a people focus on achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) with sustainable and implementable programs and initiatives instead of this?

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My dear, I wonder whether the Nigerian Government thought of the implications of such actions. Is this not another way of encouraging multiple births? I thought Africa/Nigeria has been trying to curb over population through family planning methods. Why then encourage and discourage at the same time? This is embarrassing. Yeah, i can from a distance see how many ghost pregnancies will emerge. Come to think of it......men will also become spiritually pregnant. After all they need the money more than the women .......Heads of households. May God take control. Thanks for sharing this insight Udoka. Keep ur eyes open, always. Lots of Love, Nakinti....Cameroon

Nakinti B. Nofuru

2013 VOF

Founder/CEO Rescue Women - Cameroon (REWOCAM)

nakintin@yahoo.com or rescuewomen@yahoo.com


It's as if you're a Nigerian. Our President was saying they were looking for ways to reduce maternal mortality and population size, and now this?!

Sometimes heaven helps those who help themselves. God will do what he knows is best for Nigeria. The rest is up to us as a nation, as one people to stop bringing up initiatives like this and start to use commonsense!

Udoka Chiefe International Youth Blogger Advocates for Youth


Thank you for raising this issue. I believe what you say that God will do what he knows is best for Nigeria. However, I am older and I have also found out through years of experience that "God helps those who help themselves". I have noticed that when I am working towards something of value that at some point God must be looking down saying "Good work, girl. Let me give you even more abundance". And I get farther ahead than I could have done on my own. But if I had waited for him to start, i would not have gotten this blessing. So, I have come to believe that one must do what one's soul feels and God will step in with a miracle when the time is right. As the Talmud says, "If you throw little crumbs of bread out onto the water, it comes back as a loaf of bread" " Keep up the good work.

Ubuntu ( I am who I am because of who we are together)

Wendy Stebbins

Wendy Stebbins Founder/CEO I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

That is my favourite saying! I believe without a doubt that God will step in when we start to show some initiative.

But that being said, from the evidence of the nigerian government's penchant for the absurd, initiative isn't likely to occur anytime soon till they listen to reasonable ideas and execute it. I am often blown away by the talent in nigeria. Not to overstate it, but I have met the most amazing people bursting with ideas that the government and others in power consistently steal ideas from and discourage them from realising their goals. Corruption seems to be a cornerstone and its because of this that a government would opening admit to paying pregnant women to go for ante-natal as a viable solution.

I intend to see that these fraudsters we call leaders see an end. And soon. There's only so much a nation can bear before chaos takes over

Udoka Chiefe International Youth Blogger Advocates for Youth

Dear Udoka,

You are right. I did not mean to down play the seriousness of what you were saying. There is no way we in America can comprehend what you live through on a daily, hourly sometimes, basis. I feel helpless and my heart and body would do whatever I could. I will pray for you all like I never prayed before. God bless you.

We have many Nigeria taxi drivers here in Chicago, Illinois USA that I have spoken with.

Could it be that you can't beat them at their own game? I is all absurd. It seems like from what you are saying that they will NOT be reasonable or see things from your side EVER. So, what is the answer? What are the steps that must be taken by ordinary people?

Wendy Stebbins

Wendy Stebbins Founder/CEO I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.


For now I am making copies of your article and giving it to friends and neighbors and asking them to read the article. It is a start at least to raise some awareness here. It is not much, but it is something I just thought to do as a start.


SWendy Stebbins

Wendy Stebbins Founder/CEO I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

It doesn't matter whether its a small help or a large one, so long as it's a move at being proactive. Its a start and a good one at that

Thanks so much.

Udoka Chiefe International Youth Blogger Advocates for Youth

Our so-called leaders lack vision. Truly, you'd be amazed at how dense and uncreative someone who claims to lead his/her nation can be, except of course, where the issue of embezzlement comes up. They want the bottomline, and the bottomline is: money. Lots of it. Others who aren't in positions of power aspire to politics with the sole purpose of making money. More like stealing the money. Countless probes on suspicions of laundering are met disdane and arrogance by the accused. They basically say, "I took the money, so what? You can't prove anything." Everyone's dirty and everyone knows it, but its been ingrained into society and its killing us. Whatever initiative that even has a hope of being successful gets subjected to exploitation, embezzlement and lack of drive. Corruption is choking Nigeria. It's clogged the arteries of our nation and soon, despite what we all pray against - and you know Nigerians are extremely "religious" - we will face an outcome that will shake this nation and it will never be the same again. I hope that it will be a positive outcome in the end.

Udoka Chiefe International Youth Blogger Advocates for Youth


There is just now a new article by a lady in Peru about what has happened there after many years of trying. I think you will find it hopeful.

I am not sure your government officials are dense or stupid. I am afraid it may be that they are evil and that makes a huge difference.


Wendy Stebbins Founder/CEO I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Do you have the web link of the article?

Evil manifests itself in many ways. Our leaders aren't stupid at all$ they just expect that they are entitled to the country's revenue as spending money.

Udoka Chiefe International Youth Blogger Advocates for Youth

Nakinit, my friend from Cameroon.

Your response to the Ghost pregnancy problem is so perceptive. It will result both ways. Also, my experience in Livingstone Zambia is much like I perceive the problem in Nigeria. It is not just easy to say family planning will be implemented because there are many cultural myths and values that are ingrained in these women and men. For example, still in Livingstone, it is known about dry sex. A certain leaf of a tree is crushed and mixed with water. The woman then drinks it as it gives a dry vagina which,. for some reason I do not understand, the men like. They are afraid to do otherwise at this point. Also, the men often refuse to use a condom and the women are not able to say no as they will be sent back home to their family of origin in disgrace or they will be beaten badly. This is what little I know. I KNOW we must change all this. My deep concern is HOW to change this multi-layered problem without creating bigger problems. I do not know. I have no idea. But from my previous email to you, you know I am a believer in small steps towards a goal. It will seem as if we do not have a plan and are getting no where. But sometimes having a firm plan, but builidng the strong foundation first allows the house to stand stronger, taller and longer. I do not know. I pray that we are all given guidance and what I call :God Winks, (God bringing a usable idea into our head at the right time).

I still wonder if part of the answer is to change the views of men. By that I mean, it is a known fact that NO ONE, man woman or child will not give a habit up unless they have something of equal or greater value to replace it with. I do not know. But in my mind it seems that this must be a tie in to change for women as well as what you and so many other women are so remarkably doing.



Ubuntu, My friend,


Wendy Stebbins Founder/CEO I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Dear Udoka,

Thanks for sharing the story of Nigeria with us. Your article was informative, interesting and thought provoking. I agree with you that though ante-natal classes for women might have worked for countries like India, unless it is supported by education, family planning and child birth spacing, it will not culminate into what is expected out of such initiatives.

Ignorance, culture, beliefs that people hold on to are things we need to tackle first before any intervention is tried upon. People need to let aside their religious beliefs and their actions need to be ascertained based on facts. Sensitization would play a key role.

Here in India, few years ago I remember I used to hold training sessions in villages, block wise, to educate women on what is a fact and what is a religious belief and to try to take a decision based on the former. This was in terms of health. I found in a particular community women not taking up to institutional deliveries based on a superstition, causing maternal deaths to rise.

Wish you all the best in your initiative to sensitize people in your country.

God bess:))

Love Urmila Chanam Bangalore

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

You are right! It's like the fact that other options may have been available never even occurred to those who cooked up this joke of an initiative.

Commonsense isn't very common.

Hope to hear more of you.


Dear Udoka,

You are right- Common sense isn't very common! I have found that to be true in many instances where the policy makers, the implementer and the field worker are not aware of the issue in its entirety.

Keep going sister! May WP fortify you, me and others.

Love Urmila Chanam Bangalore India

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

Thank you Sister Udoka for writing on this controversial issue.

To me paying mothers to attend ante-natal classes in the same country where many women and children face severe hunger sounds ridiculous. I sit back to wonder the kind of vision and focus our government exhibits. It is a 'show of pretense'-- a lip service by a government which do not have empathy on the citizens and as well never bothers to address the root causes of women's predicaments in Nigeria.

Causes of maternal mortality / infant mortality are instituted by the same leaders, same societies, same environment-- a system where the resources meant to cater for the basic needs of the citizens sip into private pockets. Since 1999 till date, changes we have noticed can only be felt in the re-distribution of oil blocks, fat overseas bank accounts and death of innocent Nigerian citizens-- deaths which are sponsored by same oligarchic class.

Yes, Family Planning is controversial because of Nigeria's claim of 'being religious,' yet in the same country, thousands of lives are lost between December 2011 till date-- these deaths are caused and sponsored by Nigerians-- same religious people. What a paradox? What justification do the government has for not protecting the lives of innocent citizens who were bombed on Christmas day 2011, what about the thousands who died variously in Kaduna, Abuja, Jos? What about the recent killing of hundreds of younger and old women and children who sort refuge in a church in Plateau State - the same week Senator Gyang Gatong died? What about the carelessness that led to the death of 153 passengers on board, crew men and more than 20 persons on land during the recent Dana Air crash? Are these dead citizens not gifts from God or Allah?

Yes dear sister, let us watch out. We will not relent in our efforts to bring change in our system no matter how we are threatened or hit hard by the policies.


That's the problem: they lack vision! There's no focus but the one they're striving to accomplish before 2015. All those years wasted away throwing money at the wrong initiatives and stealing it, now they've got to show where it came from.

But I wonder also, how people can go to sleep at night satisfied over this situation in Nigeria. How they refuse to be bothered on how this portrays them or they're effectiveness and efficiency as leaders.

Thank you for commenting on this issue. I hope that this potential vehicle for corruption will not see the light of day.


Your article is necessary and serious. Thank you. I feel your pain and frustration, yes even almost hopelessness. So, I ask you what is one little little little thing we can actually take action to do, that will almost go unnoticed by the government BUT will make a sustainable step towards progress?

I am listening.

Ubuntu (I am who I am because of who we are together)

Wendy Stebbins

Wendy Stebbins Founder/CEO I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Your question is interesting, considering why one would want a plan of action or idea which would attract very little if any attention from the government.

I know this has been murdered time and time again, but the very basic thing I feel should be done is to educate these women, which is a problem the Nigerian government faces in their attempt to answer that question.

Why not make ante-natal classes and services all FREE? Why not reach these religious houses and educate their leaders? Why not invest in sustainable ways to achieve results and goals to further the MDGs instead of starting a project, making noise in the media about it and letting it turn to rubbish a few months down the line? Why not, as leaders of our communities, cities, states, nations take strategic action steps to reduce if not curb this problem of maternal mortality?

The best steps are often the simplest! We know where we are. We are aware of the journey so far, the trials and setbacks encountered, we even know what we did (or didn't do) to get to where we are. I propose we start from there, and forge ahead.

That's one of the reasons for being a member of this global community of change makers and game changers. People who truly care about changing the status quo. I'd love to hear your ideas on what could be done. It often takes one standing outside to see clearly.

Udoka Chiefe International Youth Blogger Advocates for Youth

I read your article on Igbo marriage and laughed my ass off when one of the groom said he felt like he was being investigated for murder! I loved it.

As the descendant of slaves I have no idea where my ancestors are from on the African continent, but they are certainly fron Africa. I am probably from Mali, but feel as if I have some Nigerian blood. My physics professor was from Nigeria and he was from Nigeria and excellent, but my science mentor is from Mali.

Prepare for the awakening-Africa did it all, but kept it hidden while we slept through the end of the Precession (mentally). I have many enemies here simply because I and my husband have a different point of view.

Keep up the good work